Moody teenagers, bossy siblings...Is your family driving you crazy?
Are you or members of your family experiencing regular mood swings? Mood swings can impact many personal areas such as creativity, focus and drive making it hard to deal with day-to-day life.
Periods of low mood may include feelings of depression, sadness, anger, aloofness and a need to disconnect. Energy levels may also be low triggering the need for stimulating sweet and/or salty foods like chocolates and crisps. The need for stimulants like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol often increases to help prop up flagging energy levels.
There is no doubt that stress from life experiences will be contributing to this negative state of mind. However if this situation is to be holistically addressed then other factors like cellular dehydration, dietary dehydration and nutritional imbalances also need to be resolved.
How Mood is influenced by Cellular Dehydration
According to natural nutrition principles, cellular dehydration is triggered by any form of physical, emotional and/or mental stress. Repeated stress triggers further dehydration within the body. If this situation becomes long-term and chronic then the pattern for dis-ease and imbalanced health sets in.
From natural nutrition principles there is a connection of chronic cellular dehydration with mental wellbeing. The brain should normally be around 85% water. As soon as hydration levels fall below this level then mental wellbeing starts to become affected.
When the brain loses precious water this influences brain chemistry which in turn influences mood. For example, the amino acid tryptophan is required by the brain to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin can be considered a "happy" hormone, as it greatly influences an overall sense of well-being and helps to regulate mood. Adequate amounts of water are required for tryptophan to be transported into the brain. Dehydration may limit the amount of tryptophan available to the brain resulting in low mood.
How does the body cope with Dehydration?
Histamine is released which is a message from the body that there is dehydration. If dehydration is not addressed and histamine levels build then this triggers pain and inflammation. This is a much stronger message from the body that something is wrong and urgently needs to be addressed.
When the body becomes chronically dehydrated it also diverts water from lower priority areas like the colon and skin to other higher priority areas like the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. Using principles from Herring’s Law of Cure; dehydration within the body progresses from the lesser organs to the greater organs. A similar principle also exists in traditional Chinese 5 element theory where dehydration will usually initially manifest within the colon which is considered as the lowest level and then progressively moves deeper within the body manifesting in the skin, lungs and lastly the brain which is considered the deepest level. This pattern of dehydration is usually seen within families and is often highlighted within their previous generations.
Deep nutritional imbalances and chronic dehydration within a family often span back into previous generations. When nutritional imbalances have not been addressed each new generation manifests a deeper level of cellular dehydration than the previous generation. This is one of the reasons for imbalances like mental health running within families.
When taking case histories I have frequently observed that in the previous generation skin and colon health issues are presenting and in the subsequent generation lung and/or mental health issues are present indicating that the level of dehydration has deepened from one generation to the next.
Cellular Dehydration, Electrolytes and Blood Sugar
Cellular dehydration causes changes within the cell. The outer boundary of the cell known as the cell membrane starts to increase its coating of cholesterol, which is a hard, waxy-like material. This extra layer of cholesterol is designed to help the cell to hold onto precious water when it is in a dehydrated state. If cellular dehydration is not addressed then over time the cholesterol coating thickens and interferes with the transfer of substances like nutrients from entering the cell and disrupts normal cellular communication.
Cellular dehydration also influences the electrolytes: principally sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. The electrolytes are key players in generating the correct electrical charges within the cells and are essential for correct nerve and muscle functioning. As the brain relies on its system of electrical impulses, an imbalance of electrolytes has the potential to disrupt nervous functioning.
Cellular dehydration and electrolyte imbalance within the body tissues is not an immediate worry for the body to deal with. Obviously if the imbalance builds over time then it will become more of an issue. However dehydration and electrolyte imbalances within the blood are a more urgent matter for the body to address. Any electrolyte imbalance in the blood triggered by dehydration, which is typically from a loss of calcium ions, also lowers blood pH making it more acidic. This change in blood pH in turn forces the body to lower blood sugar. The adjustment in blood sugar is a necessary measure to maintain blood pH within normal levels. When blood sugar is lowered in this way the brain in particular becomes affected and triggers feelings of anxiety and stress which in turn influences mood.
One of the main external sources of dehydration is the diet. The common causes of dietary dehydration include low water intake and a nutritionally poor diet high in processed foods and chemicals. Other dietary sources of dehydration include medications and stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs.
Some foods even though they have health-promoting properties can be too dry for the body to cope with. For example foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds require a lot of water to be present in the digestive system for them to be correctly digested. These foods need to be correctly prepared otherwise it will be difficult for the body to digest and absorb their nutrients.
Regular dietary dehydration often leads to the digestive system becoming the first place to be chronically dehydrated. This can manifest symptoms like heart burn, stomach ulcers, bloating, irritable bowel, spasm, constipation and so on.
Nutritional balance is essential for mental wellbeing. The right balance of nutrients are required for key developmental transitions and phases in life such as the first year, early childhood, puberty, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. When these nutrients are absent then development can be adversely affected. For example, during the teen developmental period the frontal brain region and the reproductive organs undergo maturation. In order for this development to occur normally, nutrients like the essential fatty acids, zinc, B-Complex vitamins and phospholipids are all high in demand. If these nutrients are not available within the diet then this affects brain chemistry which in turn affects mood. To address repeated cycles of blood sugar imbalances stimulants like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are often used triggering addictive behaviour.
Menstruation is another regular key phase which often negatively impacts mood and wellbeing. Hormonal changes combined with cellular dehydration, electrolyte and blood sugar imbalances and shortages in key nutrients result in regular low moods at this time of the month.
Holistically Addressing Mood Swings
Steps to help address mood swings include:
- Get support with dealing with life issues which are creating stress. Remember that the problem may not go away but your response to it can be changed. Tools like meditation, yoga, counselling, energy healing can all provide positive support.
- Make sure that water intake is matched to the body’s needs. Physical activity, stress levels etc also need to be taken into account when addressing the body’s water needs.
- Hydrate the digestive system by drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before and after each meal.
- Hydrate dry foods as much as possible before consuming: soaking grains overnight before cooking, consuming nuts and seeds which are pre-soaked, soaking dried fruits etc
- Consume foods which are rich in essential minerals like celery, mineral broths and green juices which will help to address electrolyte imbalances.
- Include oily fish and linseed tea in the diet to provide the essential omega 3 fatty acids
- Avoid foods which imbalance blood sugar (refined foods, refined carbohydrates, grains can be an issue for some)
- Avoid dehydrating foods like processed and refined foods, which usually contain chemical preservatives, damaged fats, refined sugars and salt
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
- Identify and avoid foods which may be too challenging at this time to digest (gluten, lactose etc) by getting support from a qualified nutritionist
In natural nutrition a programme is developed for the individual, which is tailored to their unique needs. This programme includes dietary changes and naturopathic cleansing which help support the body to naturally offload internalised toxicity.
When hydration levels improve the body is more able to carry out its normal day to day functions like absorbing and assimilating nutrients and processing and releasing cellular wastes and any internalised toxicity.